Fun Freebies For Retirees

This past summer, Next Avenue published “Retiring on a Shoestring,” about a newly retired couple trying to live well on a limited budget. It hit a nerve with readers. But even though it’s not easy to live large on savings, some retirees are enjoying the extras of retirement. They’re getting deals on travel, dining out and theater tickets through seasonal, volunteer and part-time gigs that come with cool perks and freebies.

Here are four ways you might be able to do so, too, along with resources to help find these gigs:

1. Work at a local tourist attraction. Museums, historic sites, sports arenas and summer playhouses often employ part-time and seasonal workers who are retired. The jobs typically pay about $10 to $15 an hour, but can include complimentary admission passes, memberships and discounts at their gift shop and restaurants.

And while on the job, you’ll get to see a variety of performances, exhibits and shows you might not have access to otherwise.

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For example, retiree Dwight Polivka, 60, works at a wine tasting room in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, in the heart of Pinot Noir country. He pours samples of the region’s wine and talks about the history of the Oregon wine industry with visitors from around the globe.

“This job is perfect for someone who thrives on social interaction,” he says, “and I get to enjoy the wines as well.”

In addition to receiving a generous employee discount, Polivka says most of the local wineries reciprocate with complimentary tastings and discounts. “With over four hundred wineries in the Willamette Valley alone, that’s a lot of cheap dates sipping great wines in awesome places for my ‘bride’ and me!”

To find jobs at tourist attractions, sign up for their e-newsletter (subscribers are often the first to learn of job openings). Also, search local job boards.

2. Seek out seasonal jobs in cool places. There are a variety of opportunities — and perks—for retirees looking for seasonal work at places like ski resorts, fishing lodges and the National Parks.

In 2015, Bette Giordano, then 57 and recently retired, spent a summer working at a gift shop in Glacier Park Lodge, located outside beautiful Glacier National Park in Montana. “I had never done anything like this before,” she says, “but it turned out to be one of the most important experiences of my adult life. It was truly a wonderful adventure.”

She paid $9 a day for subsidized dormitory-style housing and three meals a day. ‘I didn’t have a car,” she says, “but I was always able to find people to do things with on my days off. I went whitewater rafting, hiking and horseback riding, typically at no charge. It was simply incredible.”

Kelcy Fowler, president and co-owner of, a site that posts “jobs in great places,” says the site currently has openings for gift shop clerks, tour guides and cooks, among others.

Says Fowler: “We get lots of interest for plumbers, electricians and carpenters who can help fix stuff and keep the place running smoothly. And there is a real shortage of drivers, too.”

Perks vary, but many of these jobs have heavily subsidized housing and meals. As an example, a recent winter seasonal posting for Yellowstone National Park included shared apartment-style housing for a weekly fee of $63 or $74.

In addition, seasonal workers can enjoy free or steeply discounted tickets to area attractions, like fishing excursions or hot-air balloon trips, plus discounts at the employer’s restaurants and gift shops.

“Local tour operators want other workers in the hospitality industry to be aware of their offerings, “ says Fowler.

Of course, the chance to live in some of the most stunning places in the world is a benefit of its own.

To find seasonal positions at the National Parks and other tourist destinations, consult, or

3. Exchange your free time for free admission to conferences. Do you love attending conferences, symposiums and the like? They’re typically quite expensive, but you can offset the cost by volunteering your services for them.

Conference volunteers are needed to assist with a variety of tasks including registering guests, greeting attendees, distributing handouts and assembling swag bags. In exchange for your effort, you can gain free access to many of the sessions, enjoy complimentary meals and meet interesting people. Some conference providers offer volunteers discounts on flights and accommodations as well.

To inquire about volunteer opportunities, go to the conference or event website and contact the volunteer coordinator.

4. Reduce your holiday gift budget with employee discounts. With the holidays approaching, you might be intrigued by employee discounts that retailers are offering to their seasonal workers. Most of these retail jobs pay in the $10 to $20 an hour range, but the value of the employee discount can be significant.

For example, Gap provides a discount of 25% to 50% to employees at its family of stores that include Banana Republic, Athleta, Old Navy, Gap and others. And The Container Store, which consistently lands on Fortune magazine’s list of Best Companies to Work For, has discounts of 40% to 50% off their merchandise, including gift cards.

To find seasonal holiday jobs, consult job boards like, your local newspaper and retailer websites.

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